How Dissatisfied CEOs Push Marketers into the Future


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I feel very fortunate to work with some of the world’s most progressive marketers. Whether they’re MECLABS Research Partners or attendees at one of our Summits, these marketers are driven to prove to their leadership that their efforts drive a return on investment.

They focus on measurable outcomes that translate into revenue, not vague notions like “brand awareness” that were the cornerstone of marketing back in the day. This is why they are attracted to us: We don’t believe there are expert marketers, only expert testers. At MECLABS, we approach marketing more as a science than an art.

So, when I saw this article in MarketingWeek, 70% of CEOs Have Lost Trust in Marketers, it gave me pause. Interviews with 1,200 CEOs across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia revealed they believe marketers have “continuously failed” to prove marketing strategies deliver on business growth.

Are CEOs disappointed, or are they just waking up?

The article concerned me because these findings are completely incongruous with what I witness among the marketers I come in contact with every day. I believe the results are merely a snapshot: A static picture of what is happening right now.

It misses the point of a massive trend developing. CEOs are waking up. They’re seeing opportunity to align key performance indicators (KPIs) with clear marketing objectives. This is probably why doing a better job of acting on data to improve marketing performance is the goal of 66% of the 1,260 marketers surveyed as part of MarketingSherpa’s 2013 Marketing Analytics Benchmark Report. (Check out the report’s free excerpt.)

The Internet has closed down old-school marketing

The old-school approach to marketing, with the fuzziness associated with measuring the brand impact of traditional media like television, is running its course. The Internet has changed the playing field.

However, the Internet is more than a channel – it’s a laboratory to get into the customer’s mind and close the gap between the customer’s reality and ours. We use the Internet to focus on the customer, not the product, and to translate those findings across online and offline marketing so the organization is fully aligned with customers’ desires.

A return to true marketing

When this happens, so does effective marketing. To paraphrase Peter Drucker, the aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.

How well you’re able to do this is measured in marketing KPIs like conversions and clickthrough rates, but those need to be translated into what matters most to CEOs:

  • More leads
  • More revenue
  • Shorter time to revenue
  • Improved marketing-to-sales expense

Fortunately, that’s what the marketers we work with are mastering through leveraging the Internet. They’re testing what’s most resonating with customers, and what isn’t, and then revising campaigns accordingly to drive the best results.

I believe these marketers represent the other end of the CEO spectrum: The 20% featured in the article who believe their marketers provide a return on investment, have “solid influence” within their organizations, and are candidates for senior management.

These marketers represent the future of the profession.


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